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September 03, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 5A

Is 'Boyhood'great?
Linklater's latest
more important
than enjoyable
Senior Arts Editor

There's something powerful
about making lists, or should I
say, one feels powerful making
them. Susan Sontag felt this way
too, explaining that: "I perceive 'It's alive!"
value, I confer value, I create
value, I even create - or guaran- trum, the scene where Mason's
tee - existence. Hence, my com- alcoholic, abusive stepfather
pulsion to make 'lists'." snaps at the dinner table is mas-
But "value" is a vague word. terfully directed and acted -
If I were, for example, to make a resulting in the most terrifying
list of my favorite movies, I would domestic violence scene since
include "Jaws," and "The Ameri- "The Godfather."
can." However, the value that I'm But more often than not,
conferring to these movies is just "Boyhood," is a confusing view-
a reflection of my own aesthetic ing experience. Given its length
and sentimental tastes. "Jaws" is and breadth, I don't have the
considered an influential classic. space here to critique it scene by
But "The American," was just scene, but what I will say is that
one of many warmly-received "Boyhood," much like its main
films released in 2010, with little character, suffers from identity
apparent influence or longevity. problems. On the one hand, the
It is on this point that I want to method of filming creates a very
talk about a film that, in years to organic, natural aura. We liter-
come, will be on many "Best of" ally see Mason grow before our
lists, one that will be held up as eyes, as he switches haircuts and
a classic and will influence and worldviews and love interests. In
inform countless other films. I this sense, the film is documenta-
want to talk about "Boyhood." ry-like - it chronicles the gradual
Director Richard Linklater maturing of what appears to be an
filmed a cast of actors over eleven ordinary, un-remarkable male.
years, so that they aged in real But the extreme attempts at
time. As you can guess from the realism are often interrupted by
title, the film follows the growth contrived moralizing. Mason's
of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Col- mother advises a young Hispanic
trane) as he transforms from a laborer to get an education, and
smallboyto a youngman.Acclaim presto, she runs into him five
has been nearly unanimous for years later, where he is a college
"Boyhood," with many critics student who has been waiting to
praising its landmark premise, thank her. Near the end, Mason
attention to period details and and a girl he meets his first day'
deep exploration of American of college eat special brownies,
childhood. I'm inclined to agree go on a hike and talk about "seiz-
with most critics about "Boy- ing the moment." The problem
hood" as a technical achievement with having so many of these epi-
of filmmaking. However, I'm less sodes is that they counteract the
inclined to label it as an enjoyable film's organic honesty. In other
film. words, "Boyhood" simultaneously
"Boyhood" does, have its brands itself asan entirely relat-
moments. When Mason Jr. plays able, -realistic, fly-on-the-wall
"Oregon Trail" on his PC, I exca- account of one boy, and yet it is
vated some long-buried and always bashing you over the head
surprisingly pleasant memories with life lessons. So when Mason
from first and second grade. And and Nicole have their carpe diem
on the opposite end of the spec- conversation, you're not sure


Thank you for years of laughter.
Griev1in for a stranger

whether to nod along with the
soundtrack and say "Yeah, we
really should seize the moment,"
or laugh and say "I remember
being a high teenager who would
say things like that to someone I
wanted to make out with."
I'm sure many will disagree
with me, which is fine. What I
really want to get across is that
the aesthetic shortcomings and
technical merits of "Boyhood"
are not mutually exclusive. In
fact, there are many celebrated
films that aren't fun to watch.
Sergei Eisenstein's "Battleship
Potemkin," a Soviet-era chroni-
cle of a mutiny on a Tsarist ship,
was ranked by the British Film
Institute as #11 on their "Top
50 Greatest Films of All Time"
poll. Due to its innovative use
of film editing and montage,
"Battleship" is a great techni-
cal achievement. But a silent
propaganda film can only be so
engrossing; in the end, it's more
interesting than enjoyable. How
about "Frankenstein," that icon-
ic monster movie? Influential as
it may be, I've always found it to
be rather simple and sadistic, as
the nuanced creature from Mary
Shelley's novel is turned into a
moaning brute whom the main
characters delight in burning to
Will "Boyhood" be as influen-
tial as "Battleship Potemkin" or
"Frankenstein"? It's impossible
to know, butI can say with some
degree of certainty that it will
be discussed, studied, emulated
and parodied more than most
films. I still don't think "Boy-
hood" is particularly profound
in its message, or even fun to
watch. But it is innovative, and
for now that is enough.

DailyArts Writer
over the years Ihad often heard
people remark how deeply the
death of a celebrity had affected
them. I had always found the state-
ment odd, because as much as I
enjoyed a celebrity's body of work,
I had never been so deeplytouched
as to feel true sadness when one
passed away. I would feel a twinge
of remorse for the family, but
then my life would simply go on
- unchanged by the news. I had
grown so used to this detached
way of dealing with celebrity
deaths that I could never have
guessed justhowhard the death of
Robin Williams would hit me.
My parents and I were seated
around our kitchen table, eat-
ing dinner and talking about that
day's events. The TV was on in the
background and an entertainment
gossip show was advertising some
new Johnny Depp movie. Halfway
through a clip of the cheesy com-
edy, the breaking news symbol
flashed across the screen accom-
panied by the dramatic music. All
three of our heads turned imme-
diately to the TV, preparing for
the terrible news that could only
ever come with such an inter-
ruption. I read the words at the
bottom of the screen before the
announcer said them and uttered
a stunned "Oh my God." My par-
ents soon mirroredmy shock as
the announcer explained howeel-
ebrated actor Robin Williams had
been found dead in his home at the
age of 63.
I only heard bits and pieces of
the remainder of the broadcast,
picking up on key words like
"asphyxiation" and "potential
suicide," but none of them truly
resonated. My phone immedi-
ately exploded with texts from
friends expressing their disbe-

lief at the news. I responded,
only slightly aware of what I was
saying. I couldn't explain it, but
the news had left me inexplica-
bly sad. I sent out the perfuncto-
ry tweet expressing my regrets,
but nothing seemed to shake
away the sadness.
The next night, Ilay in my bed
reading through the top headlines
of the day. Details of Williams's
suicide had been released and
even though I knew that reading
the article would only upset me, I
clicked the link and began the first
paragraph. By the time I reached
the end of the graphic description
of his death, I was in tears and
they wouldn't stop. I must have
looked ridiculous, sprawled out on
my bed at 2 a.m., literally sobbing.
Even though I knew his death
didn't directly affect me, I felt as
though it did. I felt like I had lost
one of the few consistent sources
of happiness in my life and then
immediately felt even worse for
being so selfish. He had a wife and
three children who were no doubt
more devastated by the loss, and
I was grieving as though he were
a close personal friend I had -lost
and not a complete stranger.
I eventually calmed down and
over the next several days began
attempting to understand why
I had been so rattled by Wil-
liams's death more so than any
other celebrity's. I obviously did
not know him personally - Ihad
never even been lucky enough to
meet him- butstill, deep down,
past reason and logic, I felt like he
had been a part of my life.
It's difficult to put into words
the exact reasons I felt so connect-
ed to this famous stranger. Per-
haps it was because I had always
found a little bit of my own father
in the fuzzy comedian with the
kind eyes and a smile constantly
pulling at his lips: My dad thrives

in front of an audience, lives off
the laughter of others and has
battled with depression off and on
for years.
Or perhaps it was because" of
the characters Williams had por-
trayed while I was growing up.
Whether he was dressed up as an
old Scottish woman or using his
happy little thought totake off into
the sky, I could always count on
Robin to make me laugh, and then
cry, and then laugh again. And in
the end there was always some
kind of message I could take from
the film to apply to my own life.
His characters never patronized
the children he interacted with,
instead treating them as equals,
and as a child who was constantly
being told what to do by the adults
around me, it was refreshing to see
one act differently.
Or perhaps it was because as I
grew, I knew that if I was having
a bad day I needed only to turn
on one of his many manic stand-
up routines or play a few of his
interviews to feel better. Even
when months went by when I
didn't watch one of his movies or
see one of his interviews, redis-
covering his work always felt like
running into an old friend, com-
fortable and familiar.
Now that several weeks have
that I both knew and didn't know
Robin Williams. Nothing can ever
take away the man I grew up lov-
ing. His movies will always remain
some of my favorites and there will
always be a YouTube clip to watch
when I need a smile. He was many
things for me over these last 20
years. He was part teacher, part
friend, part father figure, part
entertainer and, unfortunately,
part tortured soul. But above all,
he was one-of-a-kind, and though
he mayhave been astranger,Iwill
miss him deeply.

Beyoncee: Queen of summer

Daily MusicEditor
Forget about "Rude," "Problem"
or "Fancy," those songs of the sum-
mer that were anointed by default,
not by popular demand. Even if
those songs happened to get the
most radio play this summer,
they couldn't compare to the true
Queen. The dog days' most domi-
nant artist didn't release a new
album and didn't even really have
a new single to sell, but this sum-
mer (much like this whole year)
was the summer of Beyonce.
We unanimously agreed that
Beyonce was an amazing, game-
changing album within hours of
its surprise release, but the fact
that it's stayed relevant over the
past few months, despite huge hits
from Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea
and Nicki Minaj, has only added
to its reputation. Plenty of pop
albums make a huge splash, but
most fade away by the time the
next Next Big Thing comes along.
Beyoncd's surprise Christmastime
release was a bit of a gimmick that
built buzz and advertised itself
for free through superfan Twitter
meltdowns. But once all the hype
died down, we were left with one
of the most daring, exciting and
experimental albums ever made
(even without the "pop" qualifier).
You could take any song from
Beyonce and hold it up as the
album's best, but for the purpose
of this article I'm going to use
"Partition."One ofthemanysongs
on the record that features the fin-
gerprints of previously unknown
producer Boots (who's given the
most free reign on "Haunted"),
"Partition" expertly navigates
through multiple sections, main-
taining a strong central theme
despite the numerous songwrit-
ers and producers credited. Open-
ing with a live vocal sample that
clearly emphasizes how Yoncd is
not single ("Hey Mrs. Carter"),
Queen B declares that "radio said

plenty of pop stars declare their
rebellion, it's rare to hear one who
actually lives it. While still stay-
ing behind the couple's patented
publicity smokescreen, Beyonc6
takes her millions of listeners in
the back of her limo as she and
Jay-Z vividly show that marriage
doesn't always equate to "settling
down." The bass throbs and the
synth notes shoot into the air like
fireworks, until finally, to top it all
off, Beyonce brings in a sample
of Julianne Moore's "Do you like
sex?" monologue from "The Big
Lebowski," but in French! Plenty
of albums exude don't-give-a-fuck
opulence and ambition, but none
of them have been so universally
beloved, or perfectly calculated,
as Beyonce.
"Feminist: a person who
believes in the social, political,
and economic equality of the
sexes." In an age where many
pop stars still, for some reason,
misunderstand the label or shy
away from its political connota-
tions, Beyonc6 not only embraces
the fact that she's a feminist,
but also uses a TED talk from
renowned author Chimamanda
Ngozi Adichie to underscore that
point. The image of Beyoncd's sil-
houette standing in front of the
word "FEMINIST" on an LED
screen had to be the most defining
moment of this summer's VMAs.
Beyoncd, with its unashamed
sexuality, feminist strength and
disregard for pop music's conven-
tions, stands as a defining symbol
of music, and will undoubtedly
live on for years to come.
That's not to say that Beyoncd
spent the summer coasting on her
December album. She released
the Nicki-Minaj-featuring "Flaw-
less" remix and garnered almost
as much surprise, fanfare and
acclaim as the original album did.
She continued to fuel the gossip
columnists with her "Of course
sometimes shit go down when

it's a billion dollars on an eleva-
tor" line, which, of course, may
have just been a genius publicity
move, but regardlessawas the most
memorable lyric of the summer.
She also played shows across the
country with her husband (who,
after the lukewarm reception of
Magna Carta Holy Grail, must be
thankful that at least someone in
the family has still got it) in THE
Blockbuster Tour of the Summer.
Capping it off, Beyonce performed
a medleyof every single song from
Beyonce at the aforementioned
VMAs, a more-than-suitable vic-
tory lap for what's been one of the
most successful stints, both criti-
cally and commercially, that any
artist has enjoyed.
Beyonce is still
relevant months
after its surprise
While a lot of this summer's
Beyonce-mania came from last
year's record, the fact that Beyon-
c6 has dominated the past few
months isn't any less impressive.
As the public got to absorb Beyon-
cd more and more, its reputation
soared. Beyonce is certainly no
stranger to ginormous hits, but
Beyoncd was her first album that
truly felt both entirely connected
as one whole work and adventur-
ous in a way that no other pop
album has ever been. Beyoncd
came out in the winter of 2013, and
Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and
MAGIC! all topped the charts this
summer, but looking back, seeing
the mark that Beyoncd has made,
there's no way that we'll come to
view the summer of 2014 as any-
thing other than the summer of


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